April 22, 2024

TONY ALLEN & HUGH MASEKELA – ‘Rejoice’ – it might be posthumous but it is full of jazzy life

WORLD CIRCUIT RECORDS      20th March 2020

Thankfully, like so many prolific jazz musicians, being dead hasn’t prevented Hugh Masekela releasing more excellent music. Tony Allen, the Nigerian drumming legend dug out his tapes of sessions with Masekela from 2010, buffed them up and added in contemporary musicians. Hugh Masekela was a revered South African horn player and over a sixty year career, earnt respect from anyone who was anyone and was permanently buy with touring, playing and collaborating. Apparently they just never found time before to get together and finish the tapes while Hugh was still with us.

The result is a masterfully jazz-stepping album, flavoured with hefty doses of trumpet and drums. From the opening afrobeat of Robbers, Thugs and Muggers, through to the closing We’ve Landed, this is a bit of a joy. The drumming is always on point and exquisitely jazzy, sometimes breakbeat, sometimes pacing groovily, as in Coconut Jam. The trumpet and flugelhorn is delightfully playful at times, at others, in Agbada Bougou, it has the lonely tone of Miles In The Sky-era Davis. There are bits of song in Nigerian or, in Never, English – “it ain’t never gonna be the same ever, without Fela”. Fela is, of course, Fela Kuti, unofficial king of Lagos.

Despite being a posthumous album, this is of very high quality and combines joy, dancing drums, swing, expressive horn and serious jazz licks. It made me smile, frequently. “Rejoice”

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